Concept: British biotech startup Automata has rolled out a robotic lab automation platform named Automata Labs for the life science industry that can help scientists shorten turnaround times by scaling capacities, and spend more time on their analyses. The platform includes proprietary hardware and cloud-based management software and is suitable for diagnostics labs, drug discovery labs, and labs of all shapes and sizes.

Nature of Disruption: Automata Labs enables the automation of multiple protocols and workflows running simultaneously. The platform features a modular pod that houses a robotic arm, capable of operating lab equipment. The robotic lab automation platform allows the integration of multiple pods into larger protocols and which are automated simultaneously, minimizing manual input. The modular pod is compact and has flexible layout options to suit users’ environments. It is supported by Automata’s management software and managed service support and offers a complete workflow automation system. The management software schedules and orchestrates the protocols from a single platform. It records and stores data from the modular pods, which enables reproducibility. The cloud-based software enables the monitoring of the lab from anywhere anytime. The startup claims that the platform enables the scientists to achieve consistently accurate results faster, and on a larger scale than before.

Outlook: The pandemic COVID-19 has increased the demand for lab services and the labs are under pressure to more tests and process more materials. Several labs across the globe have long diagnostic backlogs and are struggling to clear the backlogs. Automata claim that the robotic lab automation platform enables labs to innovate and upscale their operations to meet the rising demands. The platform offers the scientists accessible, flexible, and, end-to-end lab automation which enables the scientists to focus on study. In February 2022, Automata raised $50M in a Series B funding round led by Octopus Ventures. It aims to use the funding to expand its geographic presence and add new features to the platform. In 2021, the startup partnered with National Health Service (NHS) to automate Reverse Transcript Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) testing.

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